With a bank of knowledge on some of the world’s most delectable wines, sommeliers have the ultimate insider insight into which bottles are worth picking up. With this in mind, Wine Lister asked some of the world’s top sommeliers to share with us their favourite wines retailing for under £35 per bottle.
Clockwise from top left: Joshua Castle (Noble Rot), Lesley Liu (Odette), Marc Almert (Baur au Lac), Martin Jean (Domaine les Crayères), Sara Rossi (Trinity)
Joshua Castle (Noble Rot, London)
Joshua contends that “without a shadow of a doubt, Greece is producing some of the best value-for-money wines”, noting that “the most successful producers are tapping into the country’s long viticultural history, wealth of old vines, and indigenous varieties”. He cites white wines produced from grapes such as Robolla, Roditis, and Savatiano “have been a huge success in the UK on-trade” while his pick his for “a great-value Greek wine is the red Agiorgitiko ‘Natur’ from Tetramythos, a producer based in the Peloponnese”. “Acidity, fresh flavours, and light extraction are on the agenda”, according to Joshua, who admires winemaker Panagiotis Papagiannopoulos’ tempering of Agiorgitiko’s often tannic profile – resulting in a bright crunchy expression. “I first drank it at the fantastic central Athens wine bar ‘Heteroclito’ where its energetic fruit, moderate alcohol, and glou-glou style has me hooked.”
Agiorgitiko ‘Natur’ 2021 can be found in Noble Rot’s London wine shop, Shrine to the Vine, for £17 per bottle
Lesley Liu (Odette Restaurant, Singapore)
Lesley recommends a Torrontés, citing how well it compliments the tropical climate of Singapore with its refreshing minerality and “lingering floral and sweet notes of delicate exotic fruit, fleshy citrus, and wild honey”.
Lesley is particularly impressed by the barrel-fermented Torrontés produced by Susana Balbo – the first woman in Argentina to graduate with a degree in oenology. Lesley describes it as “a new chapter for Torrontés”, due to the complexity imparted by the French oak barrels – “an unusual choice for aromatic varieties”. She commends the versatility of the grape, which lends it to being a great match for all manner of Asian dishes as its “acidity can cut through the oil present”.
Susana Balbo Signature Barrel Fermented Torrontés 2019 can be found in Roberts and Speight from £18 per bottle.
Marc Almert (Baur au Lac, Zürich)
Marc points to the wines of Côtes du Rhône for “some of the true best-buys in French wine”, and advocates looking beyond the big-name appellations such as Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Côte Rôtie, and instead towards smaller regional appellations which “often offer great ‘bang for your buck’, whilst displaying a sense of terroir”.
Marc recommends the Mistral Domaine de Ferrand. “The Bravay family named this highly-quaffable entry into their portfolio after the namesake northwesterly wind which is key to Rhône Valley viticulture.” He praises its palate, which boasts “a rich array of violet, spice, and of course dark red fruits” and says that “it possesses a great acidity back-bone, soft tannins despite its youth, and is the kind of red wine I like to enjoy after a long service.”
Mistral Domaine de Ferrand 2020 is available from Hedonism Wines for around £19 per bottle.
Martin Jean (Domaine les Crayères, Reims)
Martin shares a recent favourite from a blind tasting with friends – “a sommelier friend had brought the Jaspe 2016 cuvée from Dominique Hauvette. It was a real favourite during the tasting, and something that I would want to share around a barbecue, with some grilled spiny lobster, decorated with some Provençal tomatoes, and an eggplant pie – simple dishes to share with family and friends.”
Martin praises this biodynamic, Roussanne-dominated cuvée for “its balance, its vibrancy, and saline notes”.
Domaine Hauvette ‘Jaspe’ 2016 is currently difficult to find in the UK, but can be found in outlets abroad such as Terroirs in Dublin from around £34 per bottle (excl. shipping).
Sara Rossi (Trinity Restaurant, London)
Sara has always been “fascinated by Slovenian wines because of their unique style and personality”. She particularly recommends Cotar Terra Rossa, a blend of Teran, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon, describing its “delicate aromas of violet, sour red cherries, rosemary, and sage”. Sara praises its “refreshing acidity and firm tannins”, as well as its “long and complex finish”. Her ideal pairing for Terra Rossa would be “homemade truffle linguini pasta or roast grouse”.
Though currently unavailable in the UK, Cotar Terra Rossa 2009 can be found in European retailers such as Germany’s Vinoteca Maxima from £22 per bottle (excl. shipping).
With this year’s September campaign now in full swing, we examine some of the key releases from the second week, including offerings from Château Latour, Bibi Graetz, and Catena Zapata.
The Wine Lister team got the chance to taste a number of wines scheduled for release during this year’s CVBG ‘Beyond Bordeaux’ tasting in London on 8th September 2022
One of the most anticipated releases from this year’s campaign, ex-château stock of Château Latour’s iconic 2010 vintage was released on Tuesday 13th September. Release prices varied, with listings for the latest tranche started from around £1,045 per bottle (in-bond). Tasting twice from magnum in February 2020, Vinous’ Neal Martin awards it a perfect score of 100 points, declaring that the wine “can be summed up in two words: ‘The king’”, while the 2020 earns the wine’s joint-highest WL score (98) alongside the 2005.
Tuesday also saw two releases from Bibi Graetz; Colore 2020, offered by some retailers at £173, was a Wine Lister favourite at the CVBG tasting. Wine Lister’s CEO Ella Lister described it as a “calming, zen wine, with all the confidence, wisdom, and stillness befitting a wine from such ancient vines”, referring to its “neverending finish” and scoring it 98 points. Testamatta 2020 was also released, garnering a score of 95 points from Ella and fetching a price of £68 from retailers.
Released the same day, Joseph Phelps Insignia 2019, has so far seen merchant offers of around £182.50 per bottle (in-bond). Ella scored the wine 97 points and found that it has “the usual power of Insignia, but with a newfound subtlety and sophistication and fine tannins”. This could be down to the record-high proportion (25%) of fruit from Rutherford in 2019 – while the vintage also marks the first to include fruit from the new Joseph Phelps vineyard, El Venadito, located in the Oak Knoll District.
Adrianna Catena pouring her namesake wine for the Wine Lister team at the CVBG ‘Beyond Bordeaux’ tasting in London
Thursday morning saw two entries from the Catena Zapata stable – the 2019 vintages of Nicolás Catena Zapata and the Adrianna Vineyard Mundus Bacillus Terra. Nicolás Catena Zapata entered the market with a recommended UK retail price of £61 per bottle, having achieved a score of 96 points from Joaquin Hidalgo (Vinous). Adrianna Vineyard was released with a UK recommended retail price of £161 per bottle. Tasting in London, Ella awarded it 98 points, praising its “hedonistic bouquet”.
The morning of Friday 16th September marked a new entry to the Place this year – Belles Sœurs Cuvée Pinot Noir 2019 entered the market at £82 per bottle (in-bond). While Beaux Frères and Belles Soeurs 2019 were initially intended to be released together during last year’s campaign, reduced yields as a result of fires instigated the decision to release Beaux Frères 2019 last year and Belles Soeurs 2019 this year. Both cuvées will be released in tandem next year.
The 2013 vintage of Lindaflor La Violeta was also released on Friday 16th September, at £72.50 per bottle (in-bond) – having already been released in the form of a special-edition case alongside the 2011 vintage of its Bordeaux brother, La Violette, in March this year (at £325). Friday’s release marks the first solo introduction of the Parent family’s Mendoza estate through La Place, giving buyers the chance to acquire it in its own right. Tasting in Bordeaux, Ella awarded 93 points and found a nose that is “deep, meaty, with notes of paprika… sparkling, singing, seductive” and a palate of “exquisite freshness […] with a fine but firm structure”.
Also released this week were Penfolds Bin 169 2019, Petrolo Galatrona 2020, Cheval des Andes 2019, Joseph Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon 2019, Siepi 2020, Orma 2020, Caiarossa 2019, and Beaulieu Vineyard Georges de Latour 2019.
Next week’s releases are likely to include Petit Cheval Blanc 2020, Haut Batailley 2016, Cobos 2019, Giovanni Rosso Barolo Cerretta 2018, Pym Rae 2018, Clos des Goisses, and Palmer 2012.
While the campaign is starting to pick up speed, with many producers having released their wines just before the UK’s Queen’s Platinum Jubilee bank holidays, the pricing of en primeur is not living up to the market’s expectations. May ended with a short week that saw some key releases, including Château Pédesclaux, Château Marquis de Terme, Château d’Armailhac, Château Talbot and Château Suduiraut.
Château Marquis de Terme
Château Pédesclaux was the first wine to be released this week, going on sale on Monday 30th May, at £26.25 per bottle (all prices are quoted per bottle In Bond ex-VAT and duty), a lower price than the seven previous vintages available. Since its acquisition 13 years ago in 2009 by Jacky Lorenzetti, the quality of the wine has been steadily increasing (doubtless thanks to the investment made by its owner).
Tuesday 31st was marked by a number of releases, including several Sauternes. Château Suduiraut was released at £59.40, a historically high price, justified by the vanishingly small quantities produced (yields of just 1 hl/hectare), linked to the extreme weather conditions. Christian Seely, general manager, describes the 2021 as “tragically beautiful”. Indeed, Suduiraut 2021 is the highest rated vintage by critics since 2009, and the second best of its appellation by Wine Lister score, all vintages combined (coming just after Yquem).
Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey was released shortly after Château Suduiraut, with a release price of £58.44. The 2021 is also one of the most expensive vintages ever produced by the estate, along with the 2019 and 2018, justified by the tiny volume of only 1,200 bottles. The wines will feature special labels designed by Lalique.
Also released on Tuesday 31st, Château Marquis de Terme came onto the market at £29.40, 8% below the current price of the 2020. The 2021 received a positive review from Ella Lister tasting for Le Figaro, who noted “a level of sophistication, which shows that the gradual progress of this wine over the last few years is thanks to fundamental changes whose positive effect can be seen even in a more difficult vintage.” This was followed by the release of Château Malescot Saint-Exupéry, at £37.00, below the current market prices of the previous three vintages.
Tuesday also saw the release of Château d’Armailhac at £32.60, similarly priced to the 2020 and 7% below the 2019, which is available in bottle. This vintage, described as a “terroir vintage”, clearly showed itself in the 2021 Château d’Armailhac, where Cabernets are king (with perhaps a new level of grace compared to previous vintages).
Château Talbot came onto the market on Wednesday 1 June at £39.35, slightly below the release prices for the previous 2020 and 2019 vintages. It was closely followed by Château Larrivet Haut-Brion rouge, released at £23.59, and whose 2021 marks a turn towards the future style of the wines, containing no Merlot in its final blend (resulting in a 20% reduction in volume). “It was just better without,” confided Bruno Lemoine, general manager, as warmer temperatures continue to force earlier ripening dates for the variety.
Despite the bank holiday in the UK, a key market for Bordeaux, Thursday saw the release of several wines at very similar prices to last year, despite the drop in quality, namely Châteaux Gazin, Prieuré-Lichine, Canon-la-Gaffelière and Lagrange.
Also released this week: Châteaux Malartic-Lagravière Rouge et Blanc, Siran, Péby Faugères, Marquis d’Alesme, Branaire-Ducru, Lynch-Bages, Grand-Mayne, du Tertre, Grand-Puy-Lacoste, La Mondotte and Carbonnieux Rouge et Blanc.
Wine Lister is excited to announce the addition of a new partner critic in time for the Bordeaux 2021 en primeur campaign. Scores from Le Figaro are now included in the 100-point Wine Lister aggregated score, alongside those of existing partner critics (Jancis Robinson, Bettane+Desseauve, Antonio Galloni and Neal Martin from Vinous, Jeannie Cho Lee, and Jasper Morris).
Since Wine Lister’s acquisition by Groupe Figaro in 2020, founder and CEO, Ella Lister, has been in charge of tasting for Le Figaro, including Bordeaux as well as other regions such as Burgundy and Champagne, with the support of a panel of expert tasters across these and other French regions*.
Having tasted 380 Bordeaux wines during en primeur, we examine below Ella’s top scores for the 2021 vintage.
41 wines achieve a score of 93-96 or above. While none receive a full 100-point rating, Les Carmes Haut-Brion comes the closest to perfect, with a potential score of 99.
The 36 reds are otherwise split evenly across both banks, with 17 left bank, and 19 right bank stars. Of first growths, Ella awards the highest scores to Haut-Brion and Latour (96-98), while Lafite receives 95-98, and Margaux and Mouton share a score of 95-97.
Super-seconds Ducru-Beaucaillou and Pichon Baron earn the highest scores of their classification (95-98), while Léoville Las Cases and Pichon Comtesse also fare well, matching Mouton’s score of 95-97.
Three dry whites – Haut-Brion Blanc, La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc, and Margaux’s Pavillon Blanc appear in Ella’s top 41. Two sweet white gems – de Fargues and Suduiraut complete the set of top scorers.
Click here to view and search all Figaro scores on the Wine Lister website.
*including for de Fargues, rated by Figaro journalist Béatrice Delamotte, who also tasted a handful of the other wines in the table above alongside Ella Lister.
A feast fit for a Queen
Emmanuel Cruse and the Château d’Issan team were this month (17th May 2022) joined by 70 leading figures from the UK’s fine wine trade for an evening of celebration at historic Royal landmark, Kensington Palace. Organised by WLPR, the event commemorated the 870th wedding anniversary of Eleanor of Aquitaine and King Henry II of England on 18th May 1152, whose nuptials were celebrated with the wine of Château d’Issan.
Reception in the Sunken Garden: Entering the garden (left), Virginie and Emmanuel Cruse (middle), guests enjoying 2014 Bollinger La Grande Année (right)
This was the third and largest of Château d’Issan’s series of banquets to celebrate the union, following an event at the Houses of Parliament in 2018 and Westminster Abbey in 2015. Emmanuel, his wife, Virginie, and Château d’Issan’s Commercial Director, Augustin Lacaille were delighted to return to London to host friends and associates in a market close to their hearts.
The reception took place in Kensington Palace’s newly-redesigned Sunken Garden (unveiled to the public for the first time in July 2021), where guests were served the 2014 vintage of Bollinger La Grande Année – a champagne to which Queen Elizabeth awarded a Royal Warrant in 1955. Following the call to dinner, guests joined a short private tour of the Palace’s State Apartments, with bespoke tour booklets leading them through its majestic halls. The banquet took place in the King’s Gallery, with Emmanuel situated below a wind-dial, which, hailing from 1694, still shows the direction of the wind to this day. Adorned on the face of the dial is Great Britain, enlarged to match up to its trusty neighbour, France.
The Royal Banquet: The King’s Gallery table set (left), Emmanuel’s speech (middle), guests seated (right)
What is the connection between Eleanor of Aquitaine and Château d’Issan?
In his introductory speech, Emmanuel shared with his esteemed guests the role of Château d’Issan, formerly Lamothe-Cantenac, in consummating the marriage between Eleanor of Aquitaine and King Henry II – the former being an avid lover of Bordeaux wines. Bordeaux specialist, Jane Anson shared further historical insight into Eleanor of Aquitaine, explaining that “her contribution to England extended beyond her lifetime”, and “she continued to support the wine of Bordeaux” throughout her reign.
The wines: all formats displayed (left), Château d’Issan 2015 (middle), Château d’Issan 2006 in jeroboam (right)
A bespoke menu booklet at each place setting documented Château d’Issan’s rich history, while the white flowers and green foliage adorning the centre of the table took inspiration from the flora and fauna found at the estate – as well as traditional wedding flowers.
Honing in on their union, themes of Bordeaux and Great Britain were integrated into the dinner menu: to start, guests were served Château d’Issan 2015 with a pigeon and bacon ballotine, foie gras ganache, and pear. Jeroboams of Château d’Issan 2010 were served alongside a baked cannon of lamb, confit shoulder, and potato crown. Château d’Issan 2006 was also served in jeroboam format alongside a Franco-British cheese course, comprising Comté, Mimolette, and Stilton. Finally, imperials of Château d’Issan 1995 were poured with a dessert of dark chocolate mousse, coconut sorbet, peanut, and lime.
For further information on WLPR’s tastings and events, please contact the team here.
Wine Lister’s COO, Chloe Ashton shares her thoughts on this year’s en primeur campaign so far.
The latest Bordeaux en primeur campaign is already underway, with Batailley 2021 opening the stage at the beginning of last week, and Domaines Baron de Rothschild’s Carruades and Duhart-Milon following suit. Cantemerle’s release on Friday 13th rounded out the week, and thus far starting prices have been a relatively pleasant surprise.
What does the trade expect from this year’s campaign?
In Part I of Wine Lister’s annual Bordeaux study, we asked key members of the global fine wine trade about their expectations ahead of the 2021 campaign. Of 47 respondents, half expected prices to be somewhat more expensive, or significantly more expensive than 2020 vintage releases, after rumblings on La Place of strong trading over the past few months.
Bordeaux study (p.10): Founding members survey – 2021 release price expectations
After the first physical en primeur week in Bordeaux since the 2018 vintage (our view of the vintage can be found here), the trade will at least have had the chance to work their way through a vintage so complex that tasting was surely a necessity. With such a heterogenous vintage, pricing strategies should logically also be extremely varied, making the potential successes of 2021 sales difficult to predict. Nonetheless, here’s what we know:
- Wine Lister’s annual Bordeaux study reveals that confidence in Bordeaux us up. Respondents increased ratings on last year for three quarters of the wines included in our study – after so many trade members have been reminded of the joys of tasting in situ, both these elements could contribute to campaign positivity and momentum, with merchants backing those properties they historically believe in, and/or were indeed impressed by during en primeur tastings
- 2021 appears to be a vintage that speaks from the soil, so imparting knowledge of the best terroirs to customers should help to create demand for the best-performing wines in general
- Outside of focusing only on the very best, 2021 may be a vintage for pleasant surprises – the fresher, lower-alcohol, and more classical style of wines certainly garner appeal from traditional palates, so any merchant or collector seeking this style of drinking experience in the near to mid future could do well in seeking out some of the better-value wines hailing from this complicated campaign
Wine Lister’s wine-by-wine analysis of this year’s campaign is available in email newsletter form through a Pro+ subscription. For more information on this, please contact us.
A tour of the town with our Pessac-Léognan friends
The Larrivet Haut-Brion team joined Wine Lister to catch up with industry friends and meet some new faces in London’s fine wine scene after two years of restricted travel. Alongside a wine and cheese consumer tasting and a trade lunch, a series of individual merchant meetings provided the chance for the team to reunite with a market close to their hearts.
Larrivet Haut-Brion in London: (from left) Brand Ambassador Clara Bouineau, Technical Director François Godichon, Managing Director Bruno Lemoine
What are the latest developments at Larrivet Haut-Brion?
The viticultural evolution at Larrivet Haut-Brion kick-started with the arrival of their Managing Director, Bruno Lemoine in 2007. Fascinated by the mosaic soil structure unique to the property (with top-soils composed in patterns of graves, colluviums, or sand and clay-limestone), Bruno conducted extensive terroir analysis which informed a detailed replanting programme, allowing the team to better match grape varieties to soil types for optimum quality. Among other changes, this led to an increased proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc vines planted across the vineyard sites.
Further changes were implemented in 2015 with the arrival of Technical Director, François Godichon, who integrated several new production methods informed by his Burgundian roots. His parcel-led approach was reinforced in 2018 with the construction of a new cellar with space and facilities for a more precise vinification of individual micro-plots.
The final piece in Larrivet Haut-Brion’s winemaking puzzle, Cellar Master, Charlotte Mignon joined the team in 2020 and drives continuous experimentations with different ageing vessels, including combinations of concrete eggs, terracotta amphorae, and both new and old oak barrels. With Charlotte unavailable to join the visit (having just welcomed her second child), the London trio was completed by the property’s Brand Ambassador, Clara Bouineau, who joined the team in January 2022.
Wine and cheese tasting: Bruno and François tell guests about their wine (left), wine and cheese at Must & Lees (middle), Bruno pouring wine for guests (right)
A marriage of Bordeaux wine with British cheese
The first stop on Larrivet Haut-Brion’s London tour was specialist wine shop Must & Lees, where the team was joined by some of North London’s Bordeaux enthusiasts for a wine and cheese evening on Wednesday 23rd February. Celebrating the estate’s commitment to the UK market, Wine Lister and Larrivet Haut-Brion devised a tasting format that showcased their red and white wines alongside a selection of 100% British cheeses from Neal’s Yard Dairy. While providing the opportunity for the team to build relationships with its consumers, the evening showcased the suitability of Larrivet Haut-Brion wines with some of the UK’s favourite fromages, including the likes of St Jude and Colston Bassett Stilton.
Wine and cheese pairing: Larrivet Haut-Brion Blanc 2017 with Sinodun Hill, Les Demoiselles Blanc 2019 with St Jude, Larrivet Haut-Brion Blanc 2014 with Baron Bigod, Larrivet Haut-Brion Blanc 2007 with Durrus, Les Demoiselles Rouge 2019 with Ogleshield, Larrivet Haut-Brion Rouge 2017 with Colston Bassett Stilton
Frederick’s trade lunch: François opening a 2015 magnum (left), magnums on display with bespoke booklet (middle), Bruno presenting a magnum (right)
A taste for technical developments
Having already met with some of London’s key fine wine merchants, on Thursday 24th February, Wine Lister invited a handful of its fine wine trade and press friends for lunch at Frederick’s to discover some of Larrivet Haut-Brion’s best recent vintages in magnum.
With positive feedback across the board, Larrivet Haut-Brion’s whites showed freshness and complexity, thanks to the blending of Sauvignon Blanc with Sémillon from old vines grown on limestone soils. Alongside an impressive showing of some iconic recent vintages of reds (including 2005, 2010, 2015), the 2017 Rouge provided a promising picture of the future of Larrivet Haut-Brion 2021, with a low proportion of Merlot offset by a higher percentage of Cabernet Franc mirroring the projected blend of this year’s release – which may contain no Merlot at all.
To round off the lunch, the Larrivet Haut-Brion team poured some of their favourite wines from outside the property – an exercise that they believe is crucial to learn and gain inspiration from others. Amongst their “beyond Bordeaux” selection were Pierre Gerbais’ Prestige Extra Brut, Mas Jullien 2018, and Domaine Moingeon Saint-Aubin 1er Cru Sur Gamay 2018 – each giving guests a glimpse into the team’s personal preferences.
Wines tasted: Les Demoiselles Rouge 2019, Larrivet Haut-Brion Rouge 2019, Larrivet Haut-Brion Rouge 2018, Larrivet Haut-Brion Rouge 2017, Larrivet Haut-Brion Rouge 2016, Larrivet Haut-Brion Rouge 2015, Larrivet Haut-Brion Rouge 2010, Larrivet Haut-Brion Rouge 2005, Les Demoiselles Blanc 2020, Larrivet Haut-Brion Blanc 2020, Larrivet Haut-Brion Blanc 2019, Larrivet Haut-Brion Blanc 2018, Larrivet Haut-Brion Blanc 2011
For further information on WLPR’s tastings and events, please contact the team here.
Rounding off this year’s en primeur campaign, Wine Lister’s partner critic platform, JancisRobinson.com has now published its top Burgundy 2020 scores, with further insight into the latest vintage from Jancis Robinson, alongside Matthew Hayes, and fellow Masters of Wine, Andy Howard and Julia Harding.
Explore all Burgundy 2020 scores here, or read more below.
Amongst the 36 Burgundy 2020s that earn 18 and over, five wines receive 18.5 points and two receive a score of 19 – a slight reduction from the number of top scorers in last year’s campaign, with Jancis awarding 18.5 points to 18 Burgundy 2019s and a score of 19 to four wines.
Whites continue to steal the show across this year’s releases, with four receiving a score of 18.5 and above – compared to just one featured within the same parameters last year. Sharing a near-perfect score of 19 are Montrachets from Comtes Lafon and Leflaive – Matthew Haynes describes the former as “honed, dense, and focused”, and the latter as having a “beautiful balance and drive.”
Two producers dominate JancisRobinson.com’s top Côte de Nuits red scores; Armand Rousseau is featured five times in the list, for its Chambertin Clos de Bèze, Gevrey-Chambertin Clos Saint Jacques, Chambertin, Clos de la Roche, and Ruchottes-Chambertin Clos des Ruchottes, and Jean Grivot earns four places, with Richebourg, Echezeaux, Vosne-Romanée Les Suchots, and Vosne-Romanée Aux Reginots all achieving 18 points.
Despite the hot and dry summer causing difficulty to some of the Côte de Beaune reds, four wines from Volnay shine through; Michel Lafarge’s Volnay Les Caillerets and Clos du Château des Ducs, and Joseph Voillot’s Volnay Champans and Les Caillerets.
Discover more Burgundy 2020 scores from Wine Lister’s partner critic, Neal Martin here, an regional specialist, Jasper Morris here.
Insight from Burgundy’s regional specialist
Wine Lister’s partner critic and leading Burgundy expert, Jasper Morris MW completed the release of his Burgundy 2020 scores last week. Below we take a closer look at his top ratings per appellation subset.
How did Burgundy’s appellations perform in 2020?
Jasper Morris’ Burgundy 2020 report outlines the challenges brought about by such a hot and dry summer, with soaring temperatures throughout August leading to a deficit of juice, particularly in Pinot Noir. The inability of certain rootstock to deal with the hot dry conditions led to the threat of dieback disease (a fungal disease that attacks the trunk, appearing more frequently in stressed vines), with Jasper noting he has “never seen as many vines being ripped out as [he] did in autumn 2020”. Indeed, both factors resulted in relatively low yields for reds, with a number of producers in the Côte de Nuits having “made more wine in the frost-damaged 2021 vintage than they did in 2020.”
Nonetheless, Jasper reported that the hydric stress “concentrated everything, including acidity”, identifying wines with “profound intensity beyond anything [he] saw in 2018 and 2019.” He describes a “universally successful vintage for the white wines”, and a “wider range of styles and successes in the reds”.
Côte de Nuits
With almost all of his top scores given as ranges, much of Jasper’s tasting this year took place whilst wines were still in barrel, as many producers were “tempted to increase the length of élevage for their wines, especially the reds, given the exceptional concentration of the fruit”. This contrasts with the majority of singular scores awarded to the in-bottle samples he rated at the same time last year, and while 2019 did not see any potential 100-point wines, the Côte de Nuits 2020s have five.
The selection includes Duroché’s Chambertin Clos de Bèze and Armand Rousseau’s Chambertin, with the former released as a limited edition cuvée to mark 100 years since the Duroché family planted vines on the site. Also potentially perfect are Guyon’s Echezeaux and Domaine de la Romanée-Conti’s La Tâche, with Jasper suggesting the former “could be THE wine of the vintage.” Completing the line-up is Perrot-Minot’s Richemone Vieilles Vignes, a Premier Cru with a vibrancy that Jasper considers “almost unsurpassed anywhere in the Côte”.
Within Morey-Saint-Denis and its surrounding Grands Crus, Clos de Tart’s namesake cuvée shares the top score for a second year in a row, earning 96 – 98 points, having been complimented for its “spectacular depth”. Clos de Lambrays – nurtured by Clos de Tart’s previous winemaker, Jacques Devauges, since 2019 – matches the rating.
Côte de Beaune – reds
Jasper reports that the most challenging conditions were felt where grapes typically ripen first, including the southern villages of Volnay and Corton. Despite this, several reds including Michel Lafarge’s Volnays Clos des Chênes and Clos du Château des Ducs, and Chandon de Briailles’ Corton Clos du Roi fare well, the latter described as having the “most sensual nose of all”, with notes of “alpine raspberries”.
Côte de Beaune – whites
Jasper awards 71 white Burgundy 2020s a score of 94 – 96 and above, compared with last year’s 29 wines scoring 95 and above. He stresses the success of the 2020 vintage across the whites, with Chardonnay grapes retaining more juice than Pinot Noir, and benefitting from a longer ripening time. Montrachet and associated white Grands Crus saw two wines with a potential 99 points – Marc Colin’s Montrachet and Louis Jadot’s Bâtard-Montrachet.
Bouchard Père et Fils’ Corton-Charlemagne achieves a score of 95 – 98, and is praised for expressing “a really impressive wealth of fruit”. Earning the only potential 100-point score for whites in 2020, Arnaud Ente’s Meursault La Sève du Clos was particularly memorable, with Jasper affirming that he has “never seen this consistently great wine as expressive before”.
Explore Jasper Morris’ full Burgundy 2020 report here. For more Burgundy 2020 commentary from our partner critics, recap Neal Martin’s ratings here, and stay tuned for the last lot of scores from Jancis Robinson.com.
The first of Wine Lister’s partner critics to release scores for the latest Burgundy vintage, Neal Martin’s assessment (for Vinous) provides initial insight into some of the top en primeur picks in 2020.
What do we know about Burgundy’s 2020 vintage so far?
2020 will be remembered as a year that saw some of the earliest harvest dates ever recorded in Burgundy, with several of the region’s producers picking as early as 12th August. Though following the pattern of recent vintages marked by warm and dry growing seasons, the threat of drought was partly alleviated by significant rainfall during the winter months through to spring, which ensured water reserves were replenished ahead of the heat. Some Pinot Noir producers nonetheless saw a drop in yields, particularly on sites with poorer soils, and thus restricted water retention ability.
Dry conditions during ripening minimised the threat of disease and mildew, which was valuable for the healthy growth of red and white grapes. Despite the earlier harvest, the grapes saw excellent ripening and phenolic development, while high levels of evaporation concentrated sugars, flavours, and acidity.
Compared to the 19 wines that Neal Martin awarded 96-98 and above last year, there are an impressive 40 wines within the same parameter for the 2020 vintage. While there were no wines that earned a potential perfect score in 2019, Georges Roumier’s Musigny and Armand Rousseau’s Chambertin Clos-de-Bèze receive 99-100 and 98-100 points respectively in 2020. Neal Martin notes that the top-scoring reds of the vintage all share an excellent acidity, which “lends the 2020s a sense of brightness”.
Also faring notably well, Comte Liger-Belair’s La Romanée, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti’s La Tâche, Georges Roumier’s Chambolle-Musigny Les Amoureuses, Hudelot-Noëllat’s Richebourg, Louis Jadot’s Musigny, and Tawse’s Mazoyères Chambertin earn scores of 97-99.
Whites worth trying
Four whites hailing from Montrachet appear on the list, with offerings from Comtes Lafon, Domaine d’Eugénie, Etienne Sauzet, and Marc Colin each earning a score of 96-98. Neal Martin describes mineral notes across each, having written that this was one of the great attributes of the top whites in the vintage – especially across those grown on more “calcareous soils” akin to that which Montrachet boasts. Following the trend of white burgundy producers using less new oak, Marc Colin uses only old oak barrels for the first time in this vintage, while Comtes Lafon matured Montrachet in one-third new oak instead of 100%.
Discover Neal Martin’s full list of Burgundy 2020 scores here. Watch this space for further Burgundy 2020 score updates from Wine Lister’s partner critics, JancisRobinson.com, and specialist Burgundy critic, Jasper Morris MW.